Best Places to Live

Tulsa, OK

Population: 398,082
Photo: Duane Fernandez

Tulsa, OK, continues to attract and produce musical talent, and has done so as far back as the 1930s, when King of Western Swing and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Bob Wills relocated his band there.

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame president and musician Jim Paul Blair agrees. As a recent guest on the Tom Skinner-hosted Wednesday Night Science Project in Tulsa, he looked around the room and counted 10 musicians who had relocated to Tulsa since he first knew them in Nashville including Skinner, Don White, Don Morris, Harley Hamm and Patrick Williams.

"Tulsa is a great music town where you can find something every night," Blair says.

Besides the best of the Red Dirt genre one would expect in Oklahoma, Blair credits the variety of bookings at venues like the renowned Cain's Ballroom (The Avett Brothers, GWAR, Primus, Reverend Horton Heat), Hard Rock Casino (Sara Evans, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Joe Walsh, Heart), and BOK Center (The Black Keys, Miranda Lambert, Van Halen, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks), plus numerous smaller venues for ensuring music fans of all types will stay entertained.

Music is a key component of several annual festivals in Tulsa, too. They include Mayfest, the September Rock 'N Rib Festival and Oktoberfest, among others.

More traditional music fans can enjoy the Tulsa OperaTulsa Symphony OrchestraLight Opera Oklahoma (LOOK) and the Tulsa Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College.

Artists with Tulsa ties: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, J.J. Cale, Elvin Bishop, Leon Russell, The Gap Band, Ronnie Dunn

Noted venues: Cain's Ballroom, BOK Center, Hard Rock Casino, Brady Theater

Cool record store: Starship Records & Tapes

Fun fact: Music has been a priority in Tulsa since before Oklahoma even became a state in 1907. Two years prior, one of the city's earliest leaders, L.J. Martin, is known for his quote, "Of course, we did not have any sewers or street paving, but these were luxuries that could wait, whereas an opera house loomed as an immediate necessity."

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